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MIDAS SHARE TIPS UPDATE: Kettle firm Strix is boiling nicely

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midas share tips update kettle firm strix is boiling nicely

The pandemic has accentuated our love of a cuppa. With more of us working from home, tea and coffee breaks are more frequent and Strix should benefit from this trend.

The company leads the world in the design, manufacture and supply of kettle safety controls. These allow kettles to switch off once the water boils and they are used a billion times a day by almost 800million people.

The company sells to manufacturers and, in the first half of this year, sales fell as firms strove to conserve cash rather than order new equipment. That pattern has now reversed, with Strix on target for its best third quarter ever and a strong end to the year.

Strix leads the world in the design, manufacture and supply of kettle safety controls

Strix leads the world in the design, manufacture and supply of kettle safety controls

Midas recommended Strix in October 2017, shortly after the group was floated. Then the shares were £1.37. Now, they are £2.34. 

The increase reflects increasing confidence about Strix’s prospects and chief executive Mark Bartlett’s successful expansion into areas such as water filters and other purification tools.

The company makes key components for Tommee Tippee baby bottle machines and Aqua Optima filters for fridges and water jugs.

Strix has also pioneered a way of purifying water for animal feeding, adding a bromide solution into trough pipes.

The new technology was launched early last month in China and sales are expected to pick up steadily, as the market could be worth more than £50 million a year there alone.

Strix is based on the Isle of Man, where Covid has been far less prevalent than in the UK, and life continues virtually as normal. However, most of its kettle parts are made in China. When the pandemic erupted there, Strix adapted the new technology, spraying employees’ clothes with a fine disinfectant mist as they arrived for work.

Over time, uses could be found for this technology in hospitals and dental surgeries.

Strix also makes devices that allow taps to deliver hot and cold water and several new products are coming to market, including a kettle that allows users to fill the jug with water but only heat enough for one cup of tea or coffee.

Given that households generally fill their kettles with at least 30 per cent too much water, this device should save money and energy.

Interim results, released last month, showed falling sales and profits for the first six months of this year.

However, Bartlett is confident that results will rebound in the second half and is determined to maintain the total dividend at 7.7p, putting the stock on a 3.3 per cent yield. Brokers expect profits to be virtually unchanged at £30 million for the calendar year 2020, rising to £33 million next year with the dividend moving up to about 8p.

Midas verdict: Strix shares have made good progress and the yield is a comfort for investors. A strong hold for existing shareholders and one to watch for potential buyers.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Crackdown on uninsured motorists begins this week

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crackdown on uninsured motorists begins this week

All 43 police forces in the UK are to hunt down uninsured motorists on the road as part of a dedicated campaign being sprung on illegal drivers this week.

‘Operation Driver Insured’ – which kicked off today and runs until 1 November – will see increased policing to detect and seize uninsured motors.

The crackdown comes as figures revealed that 137,410 uninsured vehicles were taken off the road last year – equating to one every four minutes.

AA president Edmund King said he fully supported the seven-day sting, but added that it highlights a ‘fundamental’ lack of policing on our roads, which would result in uninsured drivers being caught ‘every day of the year rather than just in a one week campaign’.

Crackdown: 'Operation Driver Insured' kicks off today and run until 1 November. It should see increased policing on roads across the whole of the UK for a week

Crackdown: 'Operation Driver Insured' kicks off today and run until 1 November. It should see increased policing on roads across the whole of the UK for a week

Crackdown: ‘Operation Driver Insured’ kicks off today and run until 1 November. It should see increased policing on roads across the whole of the UK for a week

The sting has been launched as part of a collaboration between the Motor Insurers’ Bureau and the National Roads Policing Operations, Intelligence and Investigation committee.

The week-long operation bids to catch and punish those getting behind the wheel knowingly having no cover as official statistics show they cause a worrying volume of road casualties and often flee the scene of a crash.

Each year in the UK around 130 people are killed and 26,000 are left injured in collisions caused by uninsured and untraced drivers, linking to nearly one in every five road traffic collisions, the ABI says.

Evidence also shows motorists without insurance are more likely to commit a ‘hit and run’ and be involved in other crimes, be it using a stolen vehicle, driving while disqualified or substance abuse.

Insurers paid out a staggering £322million in compensation to victims of crashes involving uninsured drivers in 2019. 

Department for Transport figures indicate these collisions cost the economy a further £2billion a year in emergency services, medical care, loss of productivity and property damage.

The ABI says compensation claims from victims of incidents involving uninsured drivers have fallen by a quarter since 2016. 

However, with the financial hardship currently being endured by many due to Covid-19, insurers are becoming increasingly concerns that this could result in more people breaking the law and driving without cover.

Avon and Somerset Police said this driver had no insurance, an expired provisional licence and was not being supervised. The Mercedes-Benz was seized and driver reported to court

Avon and Somerset Police said this driver had no insurance, an expired provisional licence and was not being supervised. The Mercedes-Benz was seized and driver reported to court

Sussex Police has also began tweeting about the campaign and uninsured drivers in Bognor Regis being caught

Sussex Police has also began tweeting about the campaign and uninsured drivers in Bognor Regis being caught

Police forces have already taken to social media to post images of seized vehicles being driven by uninsured motorists

Anna Fleming, chief operating officer at MIB, said: ‘We’ve made great strides in getting more people to drive insured in recent years, but the sad reality is with Covid-19 putting so many people under financial strain, uninsured driving levels could creep up. 

‘Everyone suffers the consequences of uninsured driving. We’re fully committed to our partnership with the police so we can get as many people as possible to drive insured to make roads safer and fairer for everyone.’

Edmund King, AA president, backed the week-long campaign but said it showed the fundamental lack of road policing all-year-round due to huge budgets cuts on forces

Edmund King, AA president, backed the week-long campaign but said it showed the fundamental lack of road policing all-year-round due to huge budgets cuts on forces

Edmund King, AA president, backed the week-long campaign but said it showed the fundamental lack of road policing all-year-round due to huge budgets cuts on forces

Edmund King, AA president, backed the campaign but said it highlighted the a fundamental lack of officers on our roads in recent years caused by the mass policing budget cuts.

‘The police are right to target uninsured drivers as not only are they involved in more collisions and fatalities but previous research for the Home Office shows that the worst motoring offenders are more likely to be involved in mainstream serious crime, ‘ he told This is Money.

‘Targeting an uninsured driver may make the roads and indeed society a safer place.

‘Whilst this campaign is welcome, there is a fundamental problem with the big decline in dedicated roads policing over the last decade. 

‘If we had more ‘cops in cars’ out on the roads then such campaigns could be effective every day of the year rather than just in a one week campaign.’ 

The hashtag #OPDRIVEINSURED is being used on social media this week for police forces to showcase vehicles they've seized during the week-long sting

The hashtag #OPDRIVEINSURED is being used on social media this week for police forces to showcase vehicles they've seized during the week-long sting

The hashtag #OPDRIVEINSURED is being used on social media this week for police forces to showcase vehicles they’ve seized during the week-long sting

Figures show that 137,410 uninsured vehicles were taken off the road last year - which equated to one seizure every four minutes

Figures show that 137,410 uninsured vehicles were taken off the road last year - which equated to one seizure every four minutes

Figures show that 137,410 uninsured vehicles were taken off the road last year – which equated to one seizure every four minutes 

In order to catch offenders, the police can access the MIB’s database – a central record of all live motor insurance policies – to quickly spot if a vehicle has an alert for not showing valid cover. 

If disputed by the driver, MIB can quickly liaise with insurers to confirm if valid insurance exists.

Drivers without insurance face their vehicle being seized and potentially crushed, along with a £300 fixed penalty notice and six licence points.

They can also be referred to court and face an unlimited fine and a driving ban. 

Uninsured convictions also show on basic Disclosure and Barring Service checks which can impact employment prospects.

Commander Kyle Gordon, head of the National Roads Policing Operations, Intelligence and Investigation committee, said: ‘Many people will see uninsured driving as a victimless crime at best, or as only impacting on the profits of large insurance companies at worst. This is not the case. 

‘We know from our work in roads policing that uninsured drivers are statistically significantly more likely to cause a death or injury on the road, which too often sadly brings devastation to victims, families and communities up and down the country. They are also frequently involved in wider road crime.

‘Protecting the public and keeping our roads safe for everyone is our priority and removing uninsured drivers from our roads helps to do just that. 

‘This is why all police forces are acting to take uninsured drivers off the road every single day,’ he said.

SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING

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I paid £1.4k to change flights but now BA are taking £600 off my refund

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i paid 1 4k to change flights but now ba are taking 600 off my refund

In December 2019 I booked flights from Gatwick to Orlando with British Airways for October 2020 to celebrate my husband’s 70th birthday and our 40th wedding anniversary.

I booked three adults and one child but the following day realised I had made a mistake on the internet booking and had only booked one week instead of two.

I phoned British Airways and was told that to change the flights it would cost me an additional £1,400 which I paid, making a total charge of approximately £4,500. 

Due to Covid, BA cancelled the flight out to Orlando so I asked for the booking to be refunded.

But then they informed me that £600 of the original additional fee was a penalty charge for changing the booking and this sum would not be refunded to me. What can I do?

British Airways charged a passenger a penalty fare on top of a fee to change flights

British Airways charged a passenger a penalty fare on top of a fee to change flights

British Airways charged a passenger a penalty fare on top of a fee to change flights

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: Both airlines and holidaymakers have had a tough time this year, thanks to the ongoing pandemic.

Travellers have struggled to get refunds from their carriers since March when thousands of flights to countries all over the world were cancelled.

Many are still now trying to reclaim money from airlines for bookings cancelled months ago, with some carriers seeming to delay refund payments and blaming the backlog of applications.  

In your situation, however, the refund itself is not the issue but rather the penalty fare that British Airways is charging you.

You admit the initial booking mistake was your fault and willingly paid the £1,400 to rectify the situation – despite how costly this was.

At the time, you assumed this was the end of the matter as all flights had been changed and paid for in advance.

However, when trying to claim a refund after the holiday was cancelled, you were told it would be made minus the £600 penalty. 

Thousands of flights were cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of flights were cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of flights were cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic

You say you were never informed that a penalty fee was applied and were led to believe that the £1,400 you paid back in December last year was the difference in flight prices.

Since being told this was in fact partly the difference in flight costs, and partly a fee to change your booking, you have emailed British Airways four times but each time you say it has ignored specific questions you have asked them. 

These includes providing the name of the body that regulates their actions.

You have also said that BA staff keep repeating that according to their terms and conditions penalty charges are non-refundable. 

After speaking to British Airways, This is Money was told that the £1,400 paid by you in December 2019 was the fare difference in flights and a £600 penalty fare consisting of a £150 per person charge for changing the flights. 

BA told us that there are a variety of flight options, for example, flexible tickets that allow customers to change with a small charge. 

However, you booked tickets where changing the flights would be more expensive.  

Fortunately, since we contacted the airline, they have agreed to refund the £600 to you.  

A spokesman for British Airways replies: We are in contact with our customer to confirm the refund has been made.

Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: In situations like this, it is frustrating that such a large charge can be made with no explanation.   

On the BA website, it has a calculator that shows how much customers might be charged if they decide to change their flights. 

When putting in the option to change flights through an airport ticket office, the maximum fee comes up at £40 – although BA does say extra charges could be made. 

It adds that penalty charges may differ depending on cabin class and fare price.  

For those who have a problem with their airline booking and getting a situation resolved, the first thing they should do is contact the carrier directly. 

If you have made a written complaint and are not satisfied with the outcome or have not received a reply within eight weeks, the Civil Aviation Authority’s passenger advice and complaints team may be able to help.

They will advise on whether they think you have a valid complaint and, if so, will take it up with the business concerned. However, the CAA does not have the legal powers to impose a resolution on an airline.  

If a traveller is dissatisfied with the opinion the CAA has provided, they can take legal action against the airline or airport, but cannot appeal against the CAA’s decision.

In addition, there are strict time limits in relation to taking legal action therefore, the CAA will not handle complaints where there is less than a year to take legal action.

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How do I get free grandparent state pension credits?

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how do i get free grandparent state pension credits

I would really appreciate some clarification on the scheme that allows a family member to allocate their unused National Insurance contribution to grandparents who look after grandchildren to allow their adult children to work.

I understand that working parents who are eligible and claim child benefit (and who also receive pension credits through paid employment) can only benefit from one type each year so the other is lost.

However, they can sign over the unused one to a grandparent who helps to look after the children for work purposes.

Childcare: How often do I need to care for my grandchildren to get free state pension credits? (Stock image)

Childcare: How often do I need to care for my grandchildren to get free state pension credits? (Stock image)

Childcare: How often do I need to care for my grandchildren to get free state pension credits? (Stock image)

Please can you tell me how this scheme works? How often must you care for your grandchildren? Does looking after them after school and when they cannot attend nursery or school or for covering changes in work patterns (such as on call) and during school holidays count?

I am concerned that if my adult children give me their NI contribution it might harm their future state pension and does it depend on how long they have been claiming the benefit for their children – eight years seems to stick in my mind?

Also does it depend on how much they earn or how many hours they work?

I am sure there are many grandparents out there who are unaware of this scheme or who have similar questions. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT HOW TO ASK STEVE YOUR PENSION QUESTION       

Steve Webb replies: The scheme that you are describing came into being in April 2011 but is still not well known, so I’m pleased to have this opportunity to draw attention to it.

As you say, the idea is to allow a working parent who is receiving child benefit to allocate the National Insurance credit which comes from receiving child benefit to another family member who is helping to look after that child.

In many cases that family member will be a grandparent, but the scheme covers a long list of other family members such as aunts and uncles.

For this reason, although the scheme is informally known as a system of ‘grandparents credits’, the official title is the ‘specified adult childcare credit’.

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

The first stage is to identify a National Insurance credit that is not being used.

A typical example would be a parent (most commonly a mother, but not necessarily) who is receiving child benefit and also in paid work.

Receipt of child benefit for a child under 12 generates a credit towards someone’s National Insurance record.

But being in paid work and earning more than the lower earnings limit (currently £120 per week) also means that your National Insurance record is protected.

In such a situation, the NI credit that comes with the child benefit is going spare, and the parent loses nothing by signing it over to someone else.

The person receiving child benefit can complete a form and sign over this spare credit to a ‘specified adult’ who is helping to look after the child.

There is no requirement for a minimum number of hours of care.

Indeed, during the Covid-19 pandemic, HMRC indicated that for 19/20 and 20/21 they would even count childcare via video link, given the restrictions on family members getting together in the same place.

To benefit from receiving the credit, the person doing the childcare has to be under pension age, as NI credits do not count for years beyond pension age.

The credit is awarded on a weekly basis, so for each week during which you are helping out, one week of credits is awarded.

In theory, this could mean that the grandparent ended up with gaps for a few weeks over the course of a year, but those gaps could then be filled very cheaply with voluntary NI contributions just for the missing weeks.

Child benefit and the state pension 

This is Money is campaigning on behalf of parents who end up with a smaller state pension because of mistakes over child benefit forms. 

Have you lost state pension by not signing up because you don’t qualify, or putting the ‘wrong’ partner’s name down?

If this has happened to you, contact tanya.jefferies@thisismoney.co.uk and tell us your story.

In some families there will be more than one family member helping to look after the children.

In this case the parent who is getting the child benefit has to choose who benefits from the National Insurance credit.

Unfortunately, because there is only one credit for each family (rather than one credit per child), only one other family member can benefit when the credit is transferred.

To pick up on your other questions, the credit can be signed over as soon as the parent starts receiving child benefit.

Furthermore, it is however possible to backdate claims if you have been looking after grandchildren for someone who has been receiving child benefit for a number of years.

As the scheme was introduced in 2011, this may be why you recall hearing something about going back eight years or so.

Although the rules may seem quite complex, the basic idea is relatively simple.

It means that grandparents (or other family members) who may be spending time looking after young children do not damage their own National Insurance record as a result.

The numbers taking up the credit are gradually rising but, as you say, it deserves to be more widely known.

Full details of how to claim can be found here. 

Ask Steve Webb a pension question

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.

He is ready to answer your questions, whether you are still saving, in the process of stopping work, or juggling your finances in retirement.

Steve left the Department of Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock.

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at pensionquestions@thisismoney.co.uk.

Steve will do his best to reply to your message in a forthcoming column, but he won’t be able to answer everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his replies constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a daytime contact number with your message – this will be kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes.

If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact The Pensions Advisory Service, a Government-backed organisation which gives free help to the public. TPAS can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.

Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you are writing to Steve on this topic, he responds to a typical reader question here. It includes links to Steve’s several earlier columns about state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful.  

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